Sweet sour marinades, such as this lime juice and honey, emphasises any underlying sweet freshness in food, even when it has been pre-cooked. The same recipe can be used on freshly cooked shellfish like mussels, or even grilled chicken or pigeon. It would negate some of the bloody bitterness of the latter. The addition of bitter leaves like watercress, always add a sexy edge.
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 small red chilli, or to taste, finely diced
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon walnut oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
450g/1lb cleaned squid
1 bunch trimmed and washed watercress
1 cos lettuce heart, separated, washed and ripped
Mix together the honey, chilli, lime zest and juice and walnut oil. Season to taste and set aside.
Rinse the cleaned squid and cut up the side of its body, so that you can open it out as a flat sheet. Using a sharp knife, neatly score a diamond pattern on the outside of each squid and cut into wide strips. If you are cooking the tentacles and they are large, carefully scrape off their suckers as many people find these off-putting. Pat dry and mix in one tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat an oven-top grill pan over a high heat. Once very hot, cook the squid in batches. It only takes a few seconds to cook, so as soon as it is no longer opalescent, remove and mix into the honey marinade. Leave to cool. Once tepid, add the salad leaves and arrange artistically on individual plates. Serve immediately as a starter.
The reason honey seems sweeter than sugar (sucrose) is that it is made from fructose and dextrose (glucose), and fructose tastes sweeter than sucrose although it has the same calorific value. Curiously, highly flavoured, aromatic flower honey, such as lavender or heather, tastes less sweet.
Another facet of honey is that it quickly caramelises when subjected to heat, making it admirably suited to marinades and glazes. Duck, lamb, pork and chicken all benefit from this caramelised bitter sweetness, as does roast or grilled fruit such as figs or peaches. Its sticky nature also lend it to vinaigrettes. However, although honey's distinctive taste works well with other strong tastes, such as vinegar, umami soy sauce and bitter sweet nut oils, care should be taken when adding it to delicately flavoured puddings as it's taste can overpower them.
Reproduced by kind permission of Sybil Kapoor